JLF Research Archive

Showing items 426 to 450 of 515

(2.25.03) Grading Our Schools 2002: NCEA's Fifth Annual Report to North Carolina Parents

This fifth annual report on schools from the North Carolina Education Alliance shows that many school districts in the state made progress in 2001-02. It also shows that many of the failing school systems from 2000-01 were still performing in the failing range again last year. Official results of statewide testing are reported annually in the Department of Public Instruction’s ABCs of Public Education. End-of-grade tests for elementary students and end-of-course tests for high school students are the only exams administered statewide each year. As such, information about public schools is focused on the results of these exams. Grading Our Schools offers a different lens for studying test results and other performance data. As an additional information tool, we hope it will allow parents and taxpayers to better evaluate student performance in North Carolina’s public schools.


(1.29.03) Choosing Middle School Textbooks: Is North Carolina Failing Its Students?

All middle school teachers in North Carolina have to teach physical science, which is required for middle school students in NC public schools. Unfortunately, over 80% have never taken a physical science course and many of those who have, have taken a course that is of no help to their students. Naturally, with their limited backgrounds, they hare heavily dependent on the materials they are given to teach from. In addition, in many instances these materials form the teacher’s own introduction to the subjects. It is especially important, therefore, that the textbooks and other materials that teachers and students are forced to use get it right.


(1.23.03) Perspective on NC Budget: Spending is the Problem, Not Lack of Tax Revenue

North Carolina lawmakers are once again coming to Raleigh to grapple with a projected deficit exceeding $1 billion. A close examination of fiscal trends demonstrates that excessive spending, not inadequate revenue, is the cause and that the state budget continues to be bloated with wasteful or low-priority expenditures. Policymakers must show courage, be willing to apply fundamental principles, and target major areas of state spending for savings and reform.


(1.14.03) National Board Certification: Is North Carolina Getting Its Money's Worth?

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is a private organization formed in 1987 with the goal of establishing standards for teaching effectiveness and certifying those teachers it identified as especially capable. NBPTS has written standards that purport to show what accomplished teachers “should know and be able to do” and has established a certification procedure that relies on videotapes, portfolios and written essays. There are currently more than 16,000 National Board certified teachers in the United States, more than 20% of them in North Carolina.


(1.07.03) By the Numbers 2003: What Government Costs in North Carolina Cities and Counties

By the Numbers 2003: What Government Costs in North Carolina Cities and Counties is the fourth in a series of studies that examine local taxes, fees, and charges in every North Carolina communities. Charlotte ranks first among major cities in combined local government costs per person, with Hickory, Durham, Wilmington, and Cary rounding up the top tier. Among large urban counties, Durham and Mecklenburg have relatively high costs as a percentage of personal income.


(1.06.03) E-government: Saving Money While Better Serving Citizens

Former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith said that one of the greatest challenges facing local government is how to do more with less. This is certainly true for local governments in North Carolina. In the past two years, they have had to adjust to significantly more stringent budgetary constraints. This was brought on, in large part, by Governor Easley’s decision to withhold state reimbursements to counties and municipalities. Because of this localities are being forced to find innovative ways to balance their budgets.


(10.16.02) Check The Facts Next Time: Asserted Ozone-Asthma Link Has No Foundation

Summary: During debates about air pollution in North Carolina, supporters of more regulation have asserted that high rates of childhood asthma are related to increasing exposure to ground-level ozone. Not only has there been no such increase, but a new study shows there is, if anything, an inverse correlation — the higher the ozone level, the lower the asthma rate. Next time, lawmakers and the media should check the facts before repeating unfounded and politically motivated allegations.


(9.25.02) A Final Budget Analysis: Taxpayers & Localities Lose, Spending Lobbies Win

After months of delay, the state legislature has enacted a revised FY 2002–03 budget that differs little from the plan originally proposed by Gov. Mike Easley in May. Lawmakers adopted nearly all the governor's $543 million raid on local government reimbursements and highway funds, changing only what percentage will be made up with a sales tax increase. Taxpayers are the big losers—entering the second of what promises to be three straight years of huge tax hikes.


(9.10.02) Agenda 2002: A Candidate’s Guide to Key Issues in North Carolina Public Policy

North Carolina’s state budget reflects its governmental priorities. Unfortunately, over the past two decades governors and lawmakers have usually chosen to add new programs to the state budget without considering the merits of existing programs and finding ways to fund higher-priority items by eliminating lower priorities. As a result, the budget has grown by leaps and bounds, interrupted only briefly by retrenchment during recessionary periods, including the past three fiscal years. Until state leaders learn to exercise fiscal discipline or to write fiscal discipline into law via a strong expenditure limit the budget problem will worsen.


(8.27.02) A Budget No-Brainer: Merge House, Senate Budgets to Eliminate Deficit

As House and Senate leaders negotiate a final budget package for FY 2002-03, they should resist the usual temptation to "logroll" — to add in spending items favored by the other side — and instead accept the lower of the two chambers' previously approved figures for every department as well as the higher of the two chambers' previously approved fund transfers. With such "reverse logrolling," lawmakers could balance the state budget without a tax increase.


(8.06.02) Another Rickety Budget: House Plan Follows Senate Lead on Future Tax Hike

At this writing, the N.C. House is considering a revised General Fund budget of $14.3 billion, balanced largely by raising state taxes by $166 million, raiding $255 million from highway funds and $156 million from local governments, and achieving net budget savings of $478 million. Unfortunately, the news for taxpayers is likely to be worse next year, given the use of some $666 million in one-time money for expenses likely to recur — setting the stage for another tax increase.


(8.05.02) Socialism for Capitalists: New Incentives Won’t Aid North Carolina Economy

Gov. Easley's new incentives proposal would put political appointees into the position of doling out special tax breaks that amount to grants of taxpayer money to private businesses. Because of the unpredictable nature of a free-market economy, such a policy cannot claim to boost overall economic growth. A better policy would be to reduce North Carolina sky-high marginal tax rates on personal income, investment, and capital gains - which are among the highest in the country.


(6.19.02) A Placeholder Budget: 2002-03 Plan Relies on Immediate, Future Tax Hikes

The N.C. Senate is debating its proposed budget, which would reduce authorized FY 2002-03 spending by $585 million. Most of the $1.4 billion budget gap, however, would be closed with one-time revenues, including tax hikes and fund diversions, that will reportedly create a recurring deficit in FY 2003-04 approaching $800 million. Some leaders propose closing that gap with tax hikes, too, meaning that the total annual tax burden will have grown $1.4 billion from 2001 to 2003.


(6.05.02) Adjust the Tax Code: State Economy Needs the President’s Stimulus

The state legislature is currently considering the idea of "decoupling" North Carolina's income tax code from the federal tax code in order to avoid implementation of several tax reductions associated with a federal economic-stimulus package. But North Carolina's weakened economy desperately needs the $258 million boost that adjusting state taxes on business and personal investment would provide. Policymakers could offset any revenue loss by reducing spending.


(6.03.02) The Miseducation Lottery: Public Presented With Inflated Revenues, Benefits

Gov. Mike Easley's proposed budget for FY 2002-03 includes $250 million in revenue from a state-run lottery that has yet to be enacted. Among many legitimate objections to the administration's idea are that expected net revenue is inflated by between 37 percent and 62 percent - creating a hole in the budget of as much as $96 million — and that the administrative costs of the lottery tax exceed both the cost of alternative taxes and any revenue "loss" to out-of-state lotteries.


(5.28.02) Easley Budget Hikes Taxes: 2002-03 Spending, Revenue Ideas Deserve Scrutiny

Gov. Mike Easley's proposed budget adjustments for FY 2002-03 help to frame the coming fiscal debate in North Carolina. The plan relies primarily on increasing revenues — including more than $400 million in tax hikes, $250 million from a theoretical state lottery, and $210 million from raiding the state‘s Highway Trust Fund — rather than on budget savings. And contrary to the governor's assertion, his plan would increase state spending in the midst of a fiscal emergency.


(5.06.02) Changing Course V: An Updated Alternative Budget for North Carolina

With news of a worsening state budget and a weakened state economy, Locke Foundation analysts have updated last year's alternative budget with new projected savings and tax changes for FY 2002-03. The resulting Changing Course V budget would eliminate the deficit, repeal last year's hikes in sales and income taxes, stimulate the economy through additional tax relief and highway investment, and protect highpriority items such as public safety and classroom teachers.


(5.06.02) Changing Course V: An Updated Alternative Budget for North Carolina

With news of a worsening state budget and a weakened state economy, Locke Foundation analysts have updated last year's alternative budget with new projected savings and tax changes for FY 2002-03. The resulting Changing Course V budget would eliminate the deficit, repeal last year's hikes in sales and income taxes, stimulate the economy through additional tax relief and highway investment, and protect highpriority items such as public safety and classroom teachers.


(5.01.02) Good Spin, Bad Science: American Lung Association Report Deserves Scorn

The American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" reports are treated as scientific and informative by the state news media. They are neither. They use outdated information that reflect changing weather patterns rather than real pollution and are biased against jurisdictions like North Carolina with high numbers of ozone monitors. As a result, the reports supply propaganda for lobbyists for heavier regulation but do a great disservice to science and the general public.


(4.17.02) Truth or Consequences: Official Data Tell Real Story about NC Fiscal Woes

In recent months, public officials have made a range of statements in an attempt to explain persistent state and local budget woes. Many of these assertions do not square with the facts. A collection of graphs and tables shows clearly that North Carolina government is out of line with neighboring states in spending, employment, and taxes. Moreover, revenue growth outpaced personal income growth during the 1990s, while debt service costs are projected to triple over 10 years.


(4.15.02) Warning Signs: A Survey of North Carolina Business Leaders

A 2002 survey of North Carolina’s most politically active business executives found that they did not necessarily agree with the current direction of public policy in the state. Business leaders from every region answered questions about fiscal policy, education, transportation, tax rates, regulation, and ways to improve economic competitiveness. They disagreed strongly with legislative decisions to raise taxes.


(3.21.02) Junk Science on Soot: Flawed Study Can't Justify Clean Smokestacks Bill

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association alleges a significant increase in lung cancer risk for those exposed to high-levels of particulate matter, commonly called soot. In North Carolina, the news media and others have cited the study to boost support for the proposed Clean Smokestacks bill. But according to expert analysis, the study is so flawed that it should have been rejected by the journal. Moreover, it does not establish a case for new regulation.


(3.21.02) The Smokestacks Tax: Who Pays, and How Much, With New Regulations

To date, debate over the proposed Clean Smokestacks bill has focused primarily on the purported air-quality benefits, which would be negligible. Little attention has been paid to the cost, which could be substantial given North Carolina's already high electricity and tax rates compared to its neighbors'. This study estimates the impact on such institutions as school districts and manufacturers. The higher prices and lost jobs must be weighed against any potential benefits.


(3.07.02) Foggy Facts on Smog: NC Ozone Levels Aren't Bad or Getting Worse

Flawed studies and ignorance about North Carolina air quality have given lawmakers and the general public an inaccurate picture of trends in ground-level ozone, or "smog," in some cases exaggerating public exposure by a factor of 10. This study reexamines air-quality data from monitors across the state, concluding that exposure to dangerous ozone levels is surprisingly rare - and is dropping even without passage of the proposed "Clean Smokestacks" legislation.


(2.18.02) State of Emergency: Time to Rework Economic Development Policy

North Carolina's approach to economic development policy has failed, with the state’s high tax burden, lack of industrial diversity, and hostility to entrepreneurial effort contributing to a painful decline in employment and competitiveness. Public policymakers should rethink their reliance on central-planning models and schemes to subsidize specific businesses or regions. Instead, the state should lower taxes and avoid costly regulatory mistakes like the "Clean Smokestacks" bill.


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